Udayavni Special

COVID-19: Facebook to show messages to users who engaged in ‘harmful misinformation’

PTI, Apr 17, 2020, 8:07 AM IST

New Delhi: Facebook on Thursday, April 16 said it will start showing messages to users who have interacted with posts that contain “harmful misinformation” on COVID-19 that were removed, and connect these persons to authentic sources as part of its efforts to curb the spread of false information.

“We’re going to start showing messages in News Feed to people who have liked, reacted or commented on harmful misinformation about COVID-19 that we have since removed,” Facebook said in a blogpost.

“People will start seeing these messages in the coming weeks. We want to connect people who may have interacted with harmful misinformation about the virus with the truth from authoritative sources in case they see or hear these claims again off of Facebook,” the digital platform explained.

Outlining the steps taken by the social media giant, Facebook said that it has directed more than two billion people to authoritative health resources via its COVID-19 Information Centre and educational pop-ups, with more than 350 million people clicking through to learn more.

“We’re also continuing our efforts to reduce misinformation. Since the beginning of March, we’ve expanded our fact-checking coverage to more than a dozen new countries and now work with over 60 fact-checking organizations that review content in more than 50 languages,” Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg said in a post.

He added that the company has taken down hundreds of thousands of pieces of misinformation related to COVID-19, including theories like drinking bleach cures the virus or that physical distancing is ineffective at preventing the disease from spreading.

For other misinformation, once it is rated false by fact-checkers, Facebook reduces its distribution, applies warning labels with more context and finds duplicates, he said.

“In March, we displayed warnings on about 40 million posts related to COVID-19 based on 4,000 articles reviewed by independent fact-checkers. When people saw those warning labels, 95 per cent of the time they did not go on to view the original content,” he noted.

Zuckerberg said, “The platform is also launching a new feature called Get The Facts, a section of its Covid-19 Information Centre featuring articles written by independent fact-checking partners debunking misinformation about coronavirus.”

Facebook said that to further support the work of its fact-checking partners during this time, it had announced the first round of recipients of its USD 1 million grant programme in partnership with the International Fact-Checking Network.

“We’ve given grants to 13 fact-checking organizations around the world to support projects in Italy, Spain, Colombia, India, the Republic of Congo, and other nations. We will announce additional recipients in the coming weeks,” Facebook added.

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